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War of words continues as opponents plan protest against CAW wind turbine

The 100-metre industrial wind turbine at the Canadian Auto Workers’ Family Education Centre in Port Elgin is effectively a “vanity project,” says the lawyer representing several opponents of the project.

“I think it’s a publicity stunt in the sense that they’re hoping to basically convince the public that they are green,” said Toronto-based solicitor Nicolas Rouleau.

He said the turbine, which opponents plan to protest against this Saturday, will not generate much electricity and will not be part of a large wind development.

“It’s one turbine so it’s not as if the CAW is taking big, serious steps to build a wind farm to boost Ontario’s green energy policy. It’s a turbine that’s meant to be purely educational and it’s essentially something for the CAW to show off as how green the CAW is and, in that sense, there is no reason to have it where it is.”

The turbine project is highly contentious.

Opponents say it is built too close to homes and, as a result, threatens the health and safety of many people and will reduce the value of nearby residential properties.

About 100 homes are within 550 metres of the turbine, which is the minimum setback set out in the province’s Green Energy Act. The turbine is exempt from the act since approval was granted before it became law.

National C AW spokesman Angelo DiCaro said he is “disappointed” with the “vanity project” claim, as the lone turbine will offset up to 350 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“To say that it won’t generate much power, that’s a relative kind of argument. Yeah, it’s not a wind farm but we don’t have the resources to set up a wind farm and that was never the plan. So it’s kind of setting up this really false comparison,” he said.

DiCaro said the CAW did the project “for all the right reasons, right from the get-go.”

A protest against the turbine is planned for Saturday. Cars, trucks, tractors, farm equipment and other vehicles will gather next to The Plex in Port Elgin at 12:30 p.m. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. and proceed south on Highway 21, ending at the CAW gates. Walkers will join the parade at the top of Bruce Road 25 and Highway 21. The protest will wrap up at 3 p.m.

“Ever yone should come – families, children, pets. And ever yone who has a concern about the C AW turbine being located too close to people,” said Karen Hunter, spokeswoman for the anti-turbine group S.T.O.P.

The “Town & Country Revolt Parade” will be happening as hundreds of CAW officials and members are meeting inside the Family Education Centre for council meetings.

DiCaro said plans to power up the turbine for the first time on Saturday have been postponed due to “connectivity issues.” It will likely happen in mid-May.

He said the CAW has not yet discussed whether or not the turbine will be turned on quietly or if it will follow an announcement.